Monday, October 4, 2010

The Second Time Around

I have a pile of books over a foot high on my nightstand. One of them is pretty thick, I started it last summer and couldn't get interested, so Infinite Jest is out of the running. As far as I'm concerned, self-involved jerking off does not an interesting novel make. Pardon me for speaking ill of the dead. Three of the books I have started and want to get back to, and probably will in the ensuing weeks. That still leaves approximately ten inches of books I haven't yet read. And there are more of them unread in the shelves in other various places about the house. But lately I am distracted from new reading by rereading other books that I remember enjoying immensely the first time around. And it's interesting how the stories take on a new and different significance a few years later. It all started with Julia Phillips' Hollywood expose, You'll Never Eat Lunch in This Town Again. All that drug infused name-dropping went so well with a beer in the hammock on a late summer afternoon. Following that, I reread Moo, by Jane Smiley. I remember frequently laughing out loud the first time I read it, and it was even funnier the second time around. Moo also held greater depth for me during this most recent read now that I've dated a college professor and worked in a seed lab. This girl has seen firsthand the agony of sweating out tenure and the conundrum of publish or perish, as well as the nasty underbelly of the ag-industrial complex. Now I'm well into The Robber Bride, my favorite among Margaret Atwood's many disturbing and well written tales. Last night, I laughed out loud at a passage that took on a whole new meaning from this vantage point in my life. Roz, who is interviewing a man for the position as her personal assistant, is surprised by his candor over the fact that he is gay. You might as well know immediately, it saves time-wasting speculation. I'm gay as a grig, he says, but I won't embarrass you in public. My straight act is impeccable. A grig, in case you wondered, can mean either a short-legged hen or a young eel. I prefer the young eel version, myself. When I had recovered from my hysterical laughing jag, I looked it up myself. Grig can also refer to a young cricket or grasshopper. Or a dwarf. Do trust me when I say I am not gay bashing. The quote is a direct reference to a former sweetheart. One who did me serious wrong. Broke my heart and handed the mangled pieces back to me in a dirty cardboard pizza box. So, now that I am 99.999% over him, it gives me great pleasure to think of him as an eel or a dwarf. It was that short-legged chicken that totally cracked me up. Proof that you can learn something new rereading an old book. And that when you can laugh in the face of a thing that once brought you so very much pain, you know that you have healed at last.

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